Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Education

No Child Left Behind rewrite heading toward final approval

WASHINGTON — The nation is on the verge of a sweeping shift in education, with states poised to gain greater control over school accountability and the ways testing is used to evaluate teachers, schools and student progress.

Although the federally mandated reading and math exams in grades three to eight and in high school continue, legislation expected to be voted on by the Senate today encourages states to set caps on overall testing.

Senate approval would send the bill to the White House, where President Barack Obama is expected to sign it.

The legislation is a makeover of the widely criticized No Child Left Behind Act, which ushered in a new era of testing and accountability. Under the landmark 2002 law, Washington played a significant role in how schools and teachers were judged and what kinds of sanctions to prescribe for underperformers.

Those days would be gone under the new legislation.

The measure would substantially limit the federal government's influence, barring the Education Department from telling states and local districts how to assess the performance of schools and teachers.

Instead, states and districts would come up with their own goals for schools, design their own measures of achievement and progress, and decide how to turn around struggling schools. Testing would be one factor considered, but other measures could include graduation rates and school climate.

States, however, would be required to intervene in their lowest-performing 5 percent of schools, in high schools with high dropout rates and in schools with stubborn achievement gaps — something Democrats pushed.

The bill would end the waivers the Obama administration has given to more than 40 states, exemptions granted around the more onerous parts of No Child when it became clear that requirements such as having all students proficient in reading and math by 2014 would not be met.

"We have an opportunity to inaugurate a new era of innovation and excellence in student achievement by restoring responsibility to states and classroom teachers," said Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, the head of the Senate Education Committee and a chief architect of the bill along with Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington.

"This new law will result in fewer and better tests because states and classroom teachers will be deciding what to do about the results of the tests," Alexander, a former U.S. education secretary, added ahead of today's vote.

A core feature of No Child remains: the annual statewide testing in math and reading. But schools would be required to publicly report the results by students' race, family income and disability status.

Murray, a former preschool teacher, said the legislation would still hold underperforming schools responsible to ensure all students — minority children, poor kids and others — get a quality education. She also praised the bill for including a key priority for her, a focus on early childhood education.

"For the first time ever, our federal education law will recognize the importance of early learning with the grant program that we have put in place. It's a very good beginning step for our nation," Murray said.

The new grant program would use existing funding to help states improve quality and access to preschool.

On Common Core, reviled by many conservatives, the bill says the Education Department may not mandate or give states incentives to adopt or maintain any particular set of academic standards.

The Common Core college and career-ready curriculum guidelines were created by the states, but became a flash point for those critical of Washington influence in schools. The Obama administration offered grants through its Race to the Top program for states that adopted strong academic standards for students.

No Child Left Behind passed with broad support in Congress and was signed by President George W. Bush.

It was praised for its main intent, which was to use annual tests to identify achievement gaps in learning and failing schools in need of support. But it was later criticized for a heavy-handed federal approach that imposed sanctions when schools came up short — leading teachers, administrators and others to worry that the high stakes associated with the tests was creating a culture of over-testing and hurting classroom learning.

No Child has been up for reauthorization since 2007, but previous attempts to renew the law have been caught in a broader debate over the federal role in public education.

Comments
In major shift, House bill would turn three USF universities into one

In major shift, House bill would turn three USF universities into one

Separate accreditation has long been a point of pride and a stamp of independence for the St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee branches of the University of South Florida.Graduates of those schools frame diplomas bearing the name of their own universi...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Top Hillsborough teaching honor goes to a Lewis Elementary educator

Top Hillsborough teaching honor goes to a Lewis Elementary educator

TAMPA — The Hillsborough County Teacher of the Year is a self-described "busy, busy bee" who never tires of exploring new ways to help students learn, even if she has to be creative.At 56, Bonnie Bresnyan also is a mentor for the next generation of s...
Updated: 10 hours ago
School board member is ‘dumbfounded’ by Times report on Hillsborough substitute teachers

School board member is ‘dumbfounded’ by Times report on Hillsborough substitute teachers

TAMPA — The Hillsborough County School District should reconsider how it hires substitute teachers, and that conversation should happen publicly, School Board member Lynn Gray said Tuesday.Responding to a Tampa Bay Times article published Sunday , G...
Updated: 12 hours ago

Pasco class notes for Jan. 19

Theatre/Art/MusicCenter for the Arts at River Ridge, 11646 Town Center Road, New Port Richey. (727) 774-7382.• The center’s Learn it Live! series presents The Three Little Pigs, at 10:30 a.m. Jan. 24- 25. Pre-K – grade 4. Public show at 11 a.m. Jan. ...
Published: 01/16/18
Bill to sweeten Bright Futures scholarship sails through Senate

Bill to sweeten Bright Futures scholarship sails through Senate

Nearly a decade since the luster on Florida’s signature merit scholarship program began to grow dim, state lawmakers have taken a decisive step toward restoring its appeal. Just three days into the 2018 Legislative session, the Florida Senate ...
Published: 01/11/18
Updated: 01/12/18
Parents vent at school district meeting over fate of Lee Elementary School

Parents vent at school district meeting over fate of Lee Elementary School

TAMPA — Leaders of the Hillsborough County School District tried Thursday to reassure parents they are doing their best for the displaced students of Lee Elementary School, who lost their school in a September fire. To some, it was a hard sell...
Published: 01/11/18
Updated: 01/12/18
UF fraternity suspended until 2021

UF fraternity suspended until 2021

The University of Florida becomes the latest school to suspend a fraternity for alleged incidents involving alcohol and drug use. In December, Heather White, UF’s interim dean of students, sent the university’s chapter of Tau Epsilon Phi...
Published: 01/11/18
Napping, name-calling and stealing: Who’s subbing for your kids’ teachers in Hillsborough?

Napping, name-calling and stealing: Who’s subbing for your kids’ teachers in Hillsborough?

TAMPA — Kenneth Spain told his students at Chamberlain High School that he overcame a pornography addiction when he found Jesus. Pornography and Jesus are both taboo topics for public school teachers, so this became a case for the Hillsborough...
Published: 01/11/18
Will Florida bring back full tuition breaks for college? State senators weigh in today

Will Florida bring back full tuition breaks for college? State senators weigh in today

A bill that would permanently expand state financial aid for tens of thousands of Florida college students faces a key vote today in the state Senate.The "Florida Excellence in Higher Education Act of 2018," also known as Senate Bill 4, recently sail...
Published: 01/11/18

Pasco school board election ballot fills

One Pasco County School Board incumbent has decided not to pursue another term, while two others have announced their 2018 reelection bids.Steve Luikart, often a dissenting voice on some of the board’s more contentious issues, said Wednesday he will ...
Published: 01/11/18